Communication is one of the most important aspects of life. We communicate all the time, even if we don't realize it. We communicate with our words but we also communicate with our facial expressions and body movements. It is actually very natural for us to communicate without even using words. We shrug our shoulders to say, "I don't know" and roll our eyes to show were annoyed by something. We wave hello and goodbye as a common greeting and smile to show someone we're happy. We nod to say yes or to let someone know were interested in what they have to say. We do these things all day long with various communication partners. If it is so natural for us, don't you think it is also natural for babies? In short, yes it is natural for babies. We see that babies naturally learn to use gestures before they learn to use words. This is because babies have the ability to understand the world around them, they just aren't quite ready to coordinate their speech and language system to use words yet. You will see that babies can understand a lot more than they can communicate when they are around 12 months old. They may have a few words at this point but they are understanding a lot more than that. If you think about it, it is probably really frustrating for babies to want to communicate, but not have the ability to. Just as it could be frustrating for adults who travel to another country with very little ability to speak that country's language. You try to compensate as much as you can, but it can still be very frustrating! This is why teaching signs to your baby is a great option to help them communicate before they have all their words! Signs can be beneficial to a child who has no words, only a few words, or uses the same sound patterns for many words (such as "ba" for ball, bottle, baby, blanket, etc.). Helping babies, children, and adults communicate is a key part of a speech-language pathologist's job. This is one of the reasons why I use the Baby Signs® Program to encourage communication development for babies. There are so many benefits to teaching signs to your little ones! As I already said, it reduces their frustration and allows them to communicate before they can talk but it also encourages social-emotional development. Signing with your baby requires eye contact and engagement, which strengthens the parent and infant bond! A question you may have right now is, "Won't teaching my baby to sign make them not want to talk?" This is a question I hear a lot! Signing in no way hinders verbal language development, just as crawling doesn't hinder walking. It is just a stepping stone along the way! If you have a little one at home, consider giving the Baby Signs® Program a try and see just how happy your baby could be!